Friends Sparkle at Fundraiser “Diamonds Are Forever”

This past Saturday, more than 350 Hillsides’ friends, including celebrities Dr. Drew Pinsky and Jean Smart, attended the much-anticipated annual benefit, “Diamonds Are Forever.” Chaired by La Canada resident Donna Ford, also a Hillsides’ board member, the annual benefit raised $370,000 for our programs and services for vulnerable children, youth and families.
I am so appreciative to our donors who consistently support the work we do to help restore hope to the children and families. The demand for services is great so I am encouraged by everyone’s support of our event and their desire to help bring some brilliance into the lives of those we serve.

For their participation in a very important way, I want to recognize, once again, our $10,000 and above sponsors for their level of commitment: The California Endowment, Bill and Susan Noce, Rusnak Automotive Group, Marge and Sherm Telleen, a gift in memory of Mr. and Mrs. Jack G. Booth, Don and Sally Clark, Drake General Contractors, Linda and Stephen Gill, Jacob and Clara Maarse-Jacob Maarse Florists, Judy and Ben Reiling, Swanton Family Foundation, The Walt Disney Company, and Western Asset Management. Without that kind of major support, we can’t have a successful event.

The event was action-packed with many unique and exceptional auction items, garnered by an amazing group of women and men who worked so well together. Many thanks to the Benefit Committee, under the leadership of Donna Ford, for planning an incredible event that sparkled in so many ways.

For the 19th consecutive year, Fritz Coleman, weathercaster for KNBC-4 and honorary chairman of the benefit, served as master of ceremonies and celebrity auctioneer. As always, he brilliantly entertained guests throughout the live auction, encouraging them to bid higher and not budging for anything less than an excellent bid to help the children. And as he so comically put it, he held our dinner hostage until we took care of business.

I was also very excited to have been a part of the live auction, along with Holly and Dave Davis, longtime supporters of Hillsides. As an amateur chef or as the appropriate title of the live auction package stated, “Diamond in the Rough,” I offered to prepare a 3-course dinner for eight guests at the home of Dave and Holly Davis. Wine pairings will be provided by Dave and dinner will be served by the 2011 Benefit Committee. Fritz was able to garner two high bids so we decided to offer two packages to both bidders. A heartfelt appreciation goes to Don Clark and John Miller, who along with Bill Burkitt bid for the package, for believing in my culinary talent.

Other event highlights included a silent auction, opportunity drawings, and, for the first time, a diamond draw to win a one-carat diamond, donated by Timeless Gems, complemented by entertainment throughout the evening. 

If you did not get a chance to attend and have an opportunity to go next year, I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to have an extraordinary time while helping a worthwhile mission. In the meantime, you still have an opportunity to attend another celebrity-sighted event at another annual event, Hillsides Foster Soles, on Wednesday, April 27. Bar Celona in Pasadena will be hosting the kickoff event of our online auction of celebrity autographed shoes. You won’t want to miss this one so save the date!

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